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Outside the Lines: High Court Hears Buffer Zone Case

October 17, 2017
By Steven Aden

“Good morning! What can I do to help you?” 76-year-old grandmother Eleanor McCullen has greeted hundreds of young ladies in Massachusetts outside of abortion clinics, providing them with viable options and helping them understand the tragedy of abortion. Eleanor has found that a heartfelt, loving conversation is the only effective way to talk to young ladies who are contemplating an extremely difficult decision.

But in 2007, Massachusetts passed a law that made it virtually impossible for Eleanor to speak with the ladies at most abortion clinics in the state. The law draws a 35-foot “buffer zone” around the entrances to all abortion clinics, and prohibits any pro-life speech in those zones. So instead of coming along side these young ladies and speaking compassionately to them, Eleanor is forced to stand so far away that she has to shout to make herself heard above the traffic noise – effectively eliminating her ability to speak in a kind and loving tone. What’s worse, the law permits clinic “escorts” who often rudely shout down pro-life advocates like Eleanor.

Proponents of the law claim that they are concerned about the safety of their patients and clinic workers. In 1994, a gunman attacked a clinic in nearby Brookline. However, Mark Rienzi, one of the Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys representing Eleanor, said there has not been any violence at a Massachusetts clinic since 1994.

"The idea that someone like that will be deterred by a painted line on the ground is nonsensical," he said. "In the meantime, you shouldn't be able to use that to stop women from being offered these other options."

Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys Michael DePrimo and Mark Rienzi have been working tirelessly on behalf of Eleanor and others like her to get this discriminatory law struck down. The battle has continued since 2008, with all of the lower courts that have heard the matter to date upholding this unconstitutional law. But on June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to take up the case. Michael and Mark, along with other attorneys representing several pro-life advocates, have the opportunity to convince the court that laws like this one unconstitutionally discriminate against pro-life speech.

We are privileged to have provided funding of Michael’s and Mark’s efforts throughout this litigation, and also administrative and legal assistance in the lower courts.

Please pray for Eleanor, Michael, Mark, and the team of attorneys that will argue his case before the Supreme Court on January 15, 2014. This case is a great opportunity to secure the right of compassionate pro-life advocates like Eleanor to lovingly communicate the truth about abortion and provide alternatives and support to young ladies who find themselves in an incredibly difficult position.


Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith


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